Max Scherzer of the Los Angeles Dodgers has become the 19th pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 career strikeouts. The future Hall of Famer reached the milestone Sunday with his sixth strikeout against the Padres. Scherzer did the deed in the fifth inning against Eric Hosmer.
Scherzer nearly made the special day exponentially more special, as he took a perfect game into the eighth inning. Alas, Hosmer got a small measure of revenge in breaking it up with a one-out double. Scherzer would end up going eight innings and allowing just the one hit with no walks and nine strikeouts. The Dodgers won the game, 8-0, and Scherzer is 6-0 since joining them in late July.
The 3,000-strikeout milestone was obviously the major story here, though.
Scherzer has now recorded strikeouts with four different teams to this point. He made his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks -- who drafted him 11th overall out of the University of Missouri in 2006 -- and struck out 240 with them before being traded to the Tigers. With Detroit, Scherzer recorded 1,081 in his five seasons with them, during which he won the first of his three Cy Youngs. In parts of seven seasons with the Nationals, Scherzer struck out 1,610 batters while also winning two Cy Youngs and the World Series.
Scherzer has been brilliant since joining the Dodgers at the trade deadline. He entered Sunday with a 1.05 ERA (386 ERA+) and a 12.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven starts. Overall, he has a 2.28 ERA in his 26 starts this season.
Scherzer led his league in strikeouts three times (2016-18). Including this season, he has nine with at least 200 strikeouts. Only Nolan Ryan (15), Randy Johnson (13), Roger Clemens (12) and Tom Seaver (10) have more. Scherzer has five seasons with at least 250 strikeouts. Only Johnson (nine) and Ryan (eight) have more.
The last pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts was Scherzer's former Tigers teammate in Justin Verlander in September of 2019. That was the second time a player reached the plateau during the 2019 season, as Yankees starter CC Sabathia got there in April. That ended a nice little gap between seeing pitchers get there, as prior to Sabathia it was John Smoltz in 2008. Smoltz actually capped a stretch of less than four seasons that saw four pitchers get there, joining Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez.
The first pitcher in history to get to 3,000 strikeouts was Walter Johnson, who did so in 1923. It would be more than 50 years before another pitcher joined him. It was Bob Gibson in 1974 who next got there. Then Gaylord Perry accomplished the feat in 1978.
During the '80s, in chronological order, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Fergie Jenkins, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Bert Blyleven got there.
Between Blyleven in 1986 and Roger Clemens in 1998, there were no new 3,000 Club members. Randy Johnson joined in 2000 and there was no one else between him and the aforementioned Maddux in 2005.
It'll be interesting to see how many more pitchers get to 3,000 in this day and age. We all know that strikeouts are higher than they've ever been, but starters and going fewer and fewer innings, as teams are instead choosing to use a bevy of high-velocity relievers to shorten the game. The sweet spot for getting to 3,000 strikeouts seems to have been 1978-86, when the club grew from two to 10.
Scherzer, 37, is number 19. There have been thousands upon thousands of big-league pitchers -- not even mentioning those who weren't good enough to advance past the minors, college, etc. Scherzer is one of just 19 to record 3,000 strikeouts. That's quite a feat.